21 Febraury 2003

A U.N team is in Iran to examine arbitrary detentions on the first visit by human rights experts to the Islamic Republic for seven years.

Iran has excluded human rights investigations from outside the country since 1996.

The five-member U.N team, led by Louis Joinet of France , is to carry out a 12-day(16 to 28 February) field mission in the country which includes meetings with Islamic government and judiciary officials and visits to several prisons.

It has been reported that the Islamic regime has not fully cooperated with the team and they have not been able to carry out their mission completely. They have not been allowed to visit most of the prisoners they were to visit.

The families of prisoners and other victims of human rights violations such as families of political prisoners who are sentenced to death have not been allowed to meet with the team. The mother of Sasan Al-kanan who was executed on 19 February, was in Tehran to meet with the team in order to urge them to stop him to be executed but she was not allowed to do so.

It has been reported that hundreds of family members of the prisoners gather every day in the front of the hotel where the team members are residing, trying to meet with them. Some demonstrations has been reported in the front of the hotel.

AIPP(in Exile) wrote a letter, including names of almost one hundred political prisoners in the prisons of Evin and Tabriz and phone numbers of their families to the team few days before arriving in Tehran. But no contact has been made.

More U.N experts dealing with enforced disappearances, violence against women and freedom of expression are expected to visit Iran in coming months

The Islamic regime of Iran last year agreed to begin a human rights dialogue with the European Union which has been linked to a trade deal.